Jan 4, 2021
House Democratic Caucus Press Conference Transcript January 4
Democrat Representatives Hakeem Jeffries and Pete Aguilar held a press conference on January 4 to discuss coronavirus relief. Read the transcript of the briefing with updates on the stimulus here.
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Chairman Hakeem Jeffries: (00:00)
Need to crush the virus, provide direct relief to everyday Americans who are struggling, and to supercharge our economy so we can create prosperity in every single zip code.
Chairman Hakeem Jeffries: (00:14)
While we’re excited about the opportunities to get to work for the people in the next few weeks, our hearts are also broken because of the painful tragedy that has been experienced by our dear colleague, Jamie Raskin, his wife, Sarah, and their family connected to the passing of their beloved Tommy. And we continue to stand with Jamie, send our thoughts and our prayers and our support to him. And we will be there for him and with him every step of the way.
Chairman Hakeem Jeffries: (01:01)
We’re preparing, of course, for Wednesday’s proceeding. And let me simply say before I yield to our Vice Chair in that regard that Joe Biden won the election in clear and convincing fashion. More than 80 million Americans voted for Joe Biden. That’s more than any other presidential candidate in American history. Joe Biden won blue states, Joe Biden won swing States, Joe Biden won red states in places like Georgia and Arizona. That’s what the facts suggest. That’s what the courts have agreed took place. That’s what the voters decided.
Chairman Hakeem Jeffries: (01:52)
Let me now yield to Vice Chair Pete Aguilar.
Vice Chair Pete Aguilar: (01:58)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. As the Chairman said, this new Congress represents a new opportunity, a new opportunity for the American public, a new opportunity for us to reflect their priorities. This Congress and our Democratic Caucus is focused entirely on making sure our communities build back better. And as the Chairman said, the first plank of that is COVID response and relief, ensuring that the funds that we passed get into every corner of our communities, and to make sure that critical priorities that we left behind like state and local government are addressed in the future.
Vice Chair Pete Aguilar: (02:41)
We look forward to welcoming our new colleagues as well. And as the Chairman said, our hearts continue to go out to the entire Raskin and family is they deal with this unspeakable loss.
Vice Chair Pete Aguilar: (02:52)
With that, I yield back to the Chairman.
Chairman Hakeem Jeffries: (02:56)
Thank you. Questions?
Speaker 3: (03:00)
Thanks, Sir. So we know that there are a number of senators and house members that are Republicans that are going to object tomorrow to the certification of the Electoral College. What are your comments on their actions?
Chairman Hakeem Jeffries: (03:15)
The voters have spoken. The Electoral College has spoken. The courts have spoken. Joe Biden will be the next president of the United States of America, notwithstanding the delusional fantasies of some of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle.
Speaker 3: (03:33)
But them dragging it out, what is this going to do to Americans’ faith in our elections?
Chairman Hakeem Jeffries: (03:40)
Well, we’re going to continue to lift up the peaceful transition of power, as well as the principle of government of the people by the people and for the people, which is critical to self-government, which is an integral part of our Democratic republic. Without it, we are not a democracy, and that’s what we’re going to defend in a serious, solemn and substantive fashion on Wednesday.
Speaker 4: (04:12)
The House impeached President Trump for a phone call he made trying to interfere in the election on the front end. We’ve all heard the Georgia phone call now. Should the House take any action over his interference with the election on the backend?
Chairman Hakeem Jeffries: (04:24)
Yeah, we didn’t impeach Donald Trump simply for a phone call, though the phone call was a part of his corrupt abuse of power that also included the fact that, without any justification, he withheld $391 million in security aid from an ally who was under attack by an adversary, Russia, as part of an effort to try to get them, meaning Ukraine, to target, without justification, Joe Biden. And there were a series of steps that were taken by Donald Trump and his team that resulted in him being impeached for his corrupt abuse of power.
Chairman Hakeem Jeffries: (05:12)
With respect to what has currently taken place, I have not viewed the transcript. We’re not looking backward. We’re looking forward to the inauguration of Joe Biden on January 20th.
Speaker 5: (05:26)
Following up on that, I mean, the President very clearly has pressured this state election official to overturn an election result and to find votes in order to do so. If it is not impeachable, would you encourage the DOJ to look into the propriety of that?
Chairman Hakeem Jeffries: (05:44)
Having commented on the impeachment, one way or the other, I think if today is January 4th, there are 16 days until Joe Biden is the next president of the United States of America. We are in a deadly pandemic. It is a once in a century public health crisis. The chaos, confusion, conflict and corruption that Donald Trump has inflicted upon this country is something to be evaluated by the historians at this particular point in time. Our focus as House Democrats will remain on addressing the public health crisis and the economic crisis that has resulted in more than 350,000 Americans dying and over 20 million Americans infected by the coronavirus.
Chairman Hakeem Jeffries: (06:44)
Speaker 6: (06:48)
I wanted to ask about safety on Wednesday. You know, a number of your members are concerned about safety getting to and from the Capitol because there may be demonstrations. What are you all doing to prepare for that, or is there going to be a memo from the Sergeant-at-arms?
Chairman Hakeem Jeffries: (07:02)
It’s my understanding that there will be a memo from the Sergeant-at-arms that is forthcoming. And that the Capitol police and that the authorities are going to take all necessary precautions, most importantly to protect the public, to protect the staff, and of course to protect members of Congress who may be in harm’s way.
Chairman Hakeem Jeffries: (07:26)
Speaker 7: (07:27)
You had passed the $2,000 checks in the last Congress. Do you have any plans to have the $2,000 checks in this Congress either before or after January 20th?
Chairman Hakeem Jeffries: (07:34)
Well, we have to pass the rules package today so that our committees can be constituted and we can actually begin to move bills to the floor of the United States House of Representatives. I anticipate that that will happen. Once that occurs, we can begin the process of addressing substantive legislation.
Chairman Hakeem Jeffries: (07:53)
Joe Biden has been clear that the coronavirus relief package that was passed at the end of the preceding Congress is just a down payment on the type of relief that we need to provide to the American people on a going forward basis. It remains to be seen from the administration’s perspective whether that includes $2,000 relief checks.
Chairman Hakeem Jeffries: (08:19)
From my perspective, I think that’s unfinished business that should be continued as part of our effort to provide additional relief to the American people. The coronavirus relief package was meant as a short-term intervention for the first few months of the year, and let’s see where we’re at in terms of how we move forward in the context of the impact that the pandemic continues to have on everyday Americans.
Speaker 8: (08:48)
I’m sorry, I do have one more question. Can you speak to the nature of the gender neutral language that’s used in the rules package?
Chairman Hakeem Jeffries: (08:56)
From my standpoint, the gender neutral language is just consistent with an effort for the House in the best tradition of the House to reflect the gorgeous mosaic of the American people in the most sensitive fashion possible. And the House of course is designed to be the institution closest to the American people to reflect the hopes, the dreams, the aspirations, the fears, concerns, anxieties, in the words of the framers, the passions of the American people. It’s the reason why the House has a two year term, much to the dismay of many of my colleagues, but understandably, a two year term as opposed to a four year term for the presidency, a six year term for the Senate, life tenure for the Supreme Court. It’s because we’re the institution that’s supposed to be most intimately connected to the gorgeous mosaic of the American people. And in my humble opinion, this is just a reflection of that.
Chairman Hakeem Jeffries: (09:59)
Any final thoughts?
Chairman Hakeem Jeffries: (10:01)
Thank you everyone.
Speaker 8: (10:01)
Thank you, Sir.